Twirling the stem of a glass of 2009 Infinite Monkey Theorem Sauvignon Blanc between my fingers, I dive in with my nose and inhale like L.A. in the 1980s. And...nothing. I stare inquisitively into the glass and wonder when I'll be able to pick up distinct smells, when I'll understand what this grape is supposed to taste like. I pick up the glass and hold it to the light, and realize it's not what's in the glass that matters now, it's the reflection on the glass -- smiling diners, a bombarded bar and, behind me, the chefs of Vesta Dipping Grill and Infinite Monkey Theorem's Ben Parsons mingling and explaining the proceedings for the night ahead.
It's the beginning of yet another wonderful collaboration between the food and drink people of Denver.
Matt Selby, exec chef of Vesta and its sister restaurant, Steuben's, starts out the May 2 meal by proclaiming to the crowd that this is the first wine dinner he's done at Vesta in far too long a time. As he introduces his crew, servers are pouring Infinite Monkey Theorem wines.
Selby speaks of the increased teamwork in the food community. "Collaboration as a whole only makes dining in Denver that much stronger, that much more special," he says. "It's been interesting to see a couple different chef collaboratives up, like FIVE, Highlands Chefs Collaborative, 50 Top... it's been great to see different chefs teaming up for various dinners, various causes, and for just plain fun."
Parsons has had a steady hand in this. He opened his urban winery -- located at 931 West Fifth Avenue -- in 2008, and today his products are sold in about 125 places around Denver. When I profiled him over a year ago, he'd set his sights on making wine drinkable and approachable -- not to mention delicious -- for the average wine drinker. After tasting a glass (or two) of the Sav Blanc, I decide I'd like to grab a bottle (or two) and drink it while watching the sun set on a warm day.
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The wine gets better with every glass poured and every one of the five courses served -- pork belly braised in IMT Riesling, ponzu-grilled Kobe skirt steak. There's an amazing, synergistic connection to the pairings and the evening overall, as Selby and Parsons offer a textbook example of how to put on a successful wine dinner -- with wine glasses filled like water glasses, and water glasses going untouched.
"I think that it makes the community stronger because we are learning from each other, and growing together," Selby says, summing up the evening. "I've always embraced the notion that I'm only as good as my competition. If we continue to grow, and learn, the Denver diners will certainly benefit."
And we certainly do from this collaboration.